Airport launches direct flights to Sunshine Coast and Cairns, and Hobart may be next

Ian Bushnell 25 September 2020 43
Today's announcement at Canberra Airport

Canberra Airport Managing Director Stephen Byron, Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Head of Aviation Michael Thomson at today’s announcement. Photos: Ian Bushnell.

Canberrans will soon be able to fly direct to the holiday destinations of the Sunshine Coast and Cairns, and direct flights to Hobart are also on the agenda in a joint ACT Government-Canberra Airport strategy to open up new routes and engage new airlines.

Capping talks going back months, Canberra Airport has announced that Brisbane-based Alliance Airlines will offer two piggyback flights a week from Canberra to Maroochydore and then on to Cairns, as Queensland reopens its air border with the ACT.

A 100-seat Fokker jet will service the Canberra-Maroochydore-Cairns route on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays depending on the week, a first for Canberra that will open up the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef without having to fly via Sydney or Brisbane.

Head of Aviation Michael Thomson said the deal was another step in the airport’s COVID-19 recovery plan, and he hoped to able to announce more destinations – including Tasmania – as negotiations continue.

He said there were about 50,000 people who travel between the Sunshine Coast and Canberra in both directions, and the new service’s fares would be very competitive.

”We’re very confident that this will stay as a permanent arrangement and, in fact, if you look at the numbers of people travelling between the Sunshine Coast and Canberra, there probably is capacity to sustain four flights a week,” he said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who announced a Labor pledge to inject $3 million over four years into tourism marketing partnerships to attract more direct domestic flights to Canberra, said Tasmania was the next state on the ACT’s radar.

Fokker 100

A Fokker 100 Alliance jet of the kind that will service the new Queensland route out of Canberra. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

There have been no direct flights to Hobart for years but both Mr Barr and the airport are confident that when the usually booming tourism destination reopens, Canberra will be in the mix.

”We’re pretty well ready to go once the border issues are resolved,” Mr Barr said.

”Tasmania has put forward 1 December as when they are definitely going to make some decisions, but they are also looking to bring that forward for certain states and [a] territory.

”I’ve been putting the case to Tasmania that we’re a safe destination and we would be a good place to start. That sort of argument has been persuasive with the SA and Queensland governments.”

It’s an argument he was still prosecuting in the bid for a Canberra-Wellington link as part of a trans-Tasman bubble, which is a matter for the Australian and New Zealand governments.

”We do so in recognition of the reality around international travel so it’s important to establish new direct flights from Canberra Airport around Australia and a medium-term objective once the Australia-NZ travel bubble opens up is to work with airport and tourism authorities on Canberra-NZ flights,” he said.

An unknown factor is how big the role a slimmed-down Virgin will play, and what opportunities it will provide for carriers such as Alliance, Rex, Pelican and Corporate Air, all of which the airport is talking to.

Mr Thomson said the airport was in talks with Virgin daily but he was confident that Qantas or a carrier using a smaller aircraft would fill any gaps on the Sydney route.

”Direct flights to Hobart would be very appealing and that’s one of the discussions we’ve been having with these other carriers,” he said.

Alliance Airlines has launched a special between Canberra and the Sunshine Coast of $129 one way, on sale now until 2 October. Regular fares commence at $169 one-way.

Canberrans can fly to Cairns for $249 until 2 October. Regular fares start at $275 one-way.

The announcement is a lift for the Canberra Airport which had lost 98 per cent of its passengers during the border closures and is now slowly rebuilding.

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43 Responses to Airport launches direct flights to Sunshine Coast and Cairns, and Hobart may be next
Emily Guy Emily Guy 1:35 pm 27 Sep 20

Megan Claire now they do this!! 😂🤦🏼‍♀️🙄

    Megan Claire Megan Claire 1:36 pm 27 Sep 20

    Emily Guy honestly!!! Where was this when we needed it the last 6 years?!

    Emily Guy Emily Guy 1:38 pm 27 Sep 20

    Megan Claire exactly!! So unfair!!

John Moulis John Moulis 8:52 am 27 Sep 20

Any transfers to Noosa?

Sarah Bauuer Sarah Bauuer 5:44 am 27 Sep 20

Jo Bauer want to go to the Great Barrier Reef with me?

Jak Kanard Jak Kanard 5:50 pm 26 Sep 20

If this is true, and not compromised by the buffoonery masquerading as ‘government’ in the ACT, bring it on !

Emerson Yang Emerson Yang 3:25 pm 26 Sep 20

Jack Gabriel decent sale prices

Mike Housden-Turner Mike Housden-Turner 11:33 am 26 Sep 20

Andrew Berney maybe we could go to palm cove or that other one 😂

Tali Bushnell Tali Bushnell 9:10 am 26 Sep 20

Bailey Davis as soon as I can cross the border we’re on!!!

Michael Schaefer Michael Schaefer 8:55 am 26 Sep 20

Ali Schaef - perhaps a QLD trip could soon be on the cards??

Eliza Bush Eliza Bush 8:43 am 26 Sep 20

Caitlin Georgiadis maybe we should go

Natalie Carter Natalie Carter 8:24 am 26 Sep 20

Good for you Alex Thornton 😁

Emily Matthews Emily Matthews 7:35 am 26 Sep 20

Bri CampbellSue Campbell so close to seeing you !!

Jana Nicholson Jana Nicholson 7:26 am 26 Sep 20

Holiday time Karina Armonde

Moyra Dwyer Moyra Dwyer 6:23 am 26 Sep 20

Stephanie Da Costa Benji Jansen cbr/mcy flights 😋

Matthew Mcneill Matthew Mcneill 9:56 pm 25 Sep 20

Grant Cribb Maroochydore. Paul Dwyer. Hobart next.

Warren Morris Warren Morris 9:56 pm 25 Sep 20

Fantastic news!!

Aidan Lewis Aidan Lewis 9:37 pm 25 Sep 20

Faye, for your next trip!

Andrew Faella Andrew Faella 9:34 pm 25 Sep 20

Nicole Faella Sophie Pratt - isn't the Sunshine coast where Sophie's mum lives?

Hannah Campbell Hannah Campbell 9:02 pm 25 Sep 20

Madge- Sunshine Coast

Belinda Esler Belinda Esler 9:01 pm 25 Sep 20

Kay - flights direct to the Sunshine Coast. Even easier than Brisbane. Xx

Sue Lowth Sue Lowth 8:53 pm 25 Sep 20

Kate Lowth book a long weekend to see Soraya!

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